University of Vermont AAHS

October 1998 Horses in the News: Part One

October 1 through 7

Girl Dies After Fall from Horse
Texas -- The Austin American Statesman carried a story on October 6, 1998 about a young girl killed in a horse accident:

An 11 year old girl died Sunday after she fell off a horse in a pasture in the Thrall area, authorities said. Michelle Rene Dowdy was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. at Scott & White hospital in Temple, said Justice of the Peace G.W. Ivey.

  Michelle and her younger sister were riding horses in a pasture when a dog spooked Michelle's horse and she was bucked off, Ivey said. The horse then stepped on her, Ivey said. The accident happened shortly after 8 p.m.

  The girl's parents live in the Thrall area, Ivey said.  Further details were not available.

What Is It With Girls and Horses?
Rhode Island -- The Providence Journal carried a story on October 1, 1998 by Linda Borg about the affinity of girls for horses:

As a child, Patty Traendly remembers waking up early Christmas morning with one thought in m Traendly never got her wish, but her daughter did.

  "I'm living this dream through my daughter now," the Charlestown woman said. 'I've finally gotten the pony I've always wanted."

   For generations, young girls have been fascinated with all things equine. They have been collecting toy horses, pretending to be horses, riding and showing horses and, if they were really blessed, owning their own horses.

  As a child, I was not immune. My girlfriends and I would play act that we were the wild ponies of Assateague, the true heroes of the popular book, Misty of Chincoteague. We spent countless hours galloping through the dunes and scrub brush of Cape Cod's Sandy Neck Beach, the wind tugging at our hair.

  Oddly enough, the boys in our gang turned up their noses at this game. "Misty" was always an all girls affair.

  Area stable owners confirm that girls who their barns outnumber the boys 10 to 1.

  What is it about girls and horses, anyway?

  "It's that infatuation with the pony in the back yard," said Brenda Porter, whose 7 year old daughter rides and whose parents own the Sakonnet Equestrian Center in Tiverton.

  There is something mysterious and magnificent about horses:

  "As a young girl, I was always attracted to the beauty and grace of the animal," Traendly said. "They are very affectionate, so it's easy to fall in love with them."

  The bond starts with the animal, then expands into the sport of riding and showing horses. Riding is not only a physically demanding sport, it is an intellectually demanding one because it requires a nuanced communication between rider and mount. And the female gender has always been the one that valued communication and relationships.

  "When you see a beautiful performance in the ring, it looks effortless, but there is actually a great deal of communication between horse and rider," Traendly said. "That's part of the uniqueness of the sport, the fact that two species are connecting and working together."

  A fondness for horses seems bred in the bone. If your mother rode, chances are you do, too.

  Nine year old Kiley Prime of Middletown is the third generation of women to ride in her family. Her mother, Liz Prime, competed for many years in regional horse shows as well as in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

  "There were four girls in my family," she said. "Two of us rode and two didn't. For me, it was wonderful because we lived on a street where all of us kept our horses at home. Four or five of us would ride our horses on the beach after school."

  In an age when professionals bemoan the loss of self confidence among teenage girls, parents agree that learning to ride these huge beasts does wonders for their daughters' self esteem.

  Traendly's 10 year old daughter tends to be a retiring child. But once she sits in the saddle and takes control of her horse, her entire demeanor changes. She becomes the epitome of confidence and grace.

  "It's a phenomenal self esteem builder," Traendly said. "And it carries over into other things she does. When she is meeting people for the first time, this is something she can share and be proud of."

  "Riding kept me occupied," Prime said. "It kept me away from negative outside influences."

  Caring for a horse also teaches the rider to be responsible for something other than herself. Horses are a lot of work. They must be fed, groomed, exercised and trained. Their stalls must be mucked, the tack cleaned, their tails braided for shows.

  No one can readily explain why boys aren't attracted to this sport. Perhaps it is a self fulfilling prophecy: Because riding has long been the province of girls, boys tend to avoid it in favor of sports like baseball and hockey.

  As Prime put it, "Boys have always had so many other options."

Debate Over Horse Trail
Florida -- The Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel carried a story on October 1, 1998 by Jodie Needle about establishing an equestrian trail:

A proposed equestrian trail in western Davie has  been debated for so long that  many might conclude that further discussions would be beating  a dead horse.

  After years of talks, no one can  agree who owns the land   along a canal on Southwest 142nd Avenue between Southwest 14th and  26th streets   where the trail is  proposed.

   Two possible solutions could  soon resolve the debate. The first would be for Broward County officials to give the land to the 30 or so Oak Hill residents whose  homes abut the property. This is a common county procedure, said  Lori Parrish, chairwoman  of the County Commission.

  This week, Parrish filed  petitions on behalf of three property owners seeking  claim of the land.

  "County officials have told me  that if the residents petition, then there is no legal reason for us not  to give it back," said Parrish, who lives in Oak Hill.

   Ownership question

  But town officials are not so  sure the land is the county's to give away. So, the second option  would be for a judge to decide the land's fate.

  The proposed trail has divided  neighbors and  Town Council members,  who narrowly approved the creation of the trail in June so long  as the land is publicly owned.

  Those in favor of the trail say  the land is public and that it would provide a safe place to ride  away from the area's congested roads.

  "Even if one child's life is  saved by having an off the road trail it's worth it," said Councilwoman Judy Paul. "We have no intention of taking private property for public use."

  Paul, Vice Mayor Kathy Cox  and Councilman Jim Bush approved the trail, with Mayor Harry Venis and Councilman Richard  Weiner voting against it, saying they wanted to know who owns  the land.

  Trail opponents say the land  belongs to the homeowners, who  fear it would increase crime and  decrease privacy. They say the  land does not provide enough  room for horses since it is narrow  and steep in parts.

   Private property

  Bruce Megee, who lives along  the canal, has spent countless hours researching related cases  and Broward County property records, which he says prove the  land is private.

  "We're fighting for our property," said Megee, who with other homeowners defeated this trail  and another nearby in 1990 with petitions.

  But the wording in those court  documents is ambiguous, said  Town Attorney Barry Webber.

  "Right now, [the language)  means whatever everybody says  it means," he said. "And we all  can't agree on what it means.  That's why everyone agrees that  the court is the only one that can decide."

  James Brady, an attorney retained by Megee and about 20  other homeowners, agrees that a  judge may be the only way to settle the matter.

  "There will be a lawsuit filed  and submitted to court as to whether or not the city has the  right to use the easement area," Brady said.

  "And if they do have  the right, whether or not they  have the right to use it as a horse  trail, which I call a linear park."

  Once David Romanik, another  attorney for the homeowners,  files the case in court, a judge  could decide the outcome within  90 days, Webber said.

  He said a judge will interpret  the county records to determine if the town owns the land, if  homeowners own it or if the town  once owned it, but some how, ownership has switched back to the residents.

  Said Webber, "The court order  will state who has the rights there, and that can be relied on  forever."

Profile of a Farrier
Tennessee -- The Memphis Commercial Appeal carried a story on October 5, 1998 by C. Richard Cotton about an ex-carpet installer who turned horseshoer:

Harold Holman used to lay carpet. He's vowed: Never again.

  Today, he visits horses across the Mid South, nailing new shoes to their hooves. Holman put 120,000 miles on his trusty 1986 one ton pickup last year.

   "I had a horse wouldn't nobody else shoe," the 39 year old Holly Springs resident said of the spirited steed. "I had to learn to do it myself."

  And that began his career as a farrier 15 years ago. Holman paid $2,600 to attend a six week farrier school in Oklahoma City 10 years ago and has been shoeing professionally for the past seven.

  Holman talked as he pulled his tools from the fiberglass shell over the bed of his truck. He limped noticeably, explaining he'd been kicked the day before.

  He arranged all the regular horseshoeing implements in the dusty corral behind his truck: nippers, rasps, nail clinchers and, of course, an anvil on a stand.

  Inside the truck, Holman keeps a drill press, a propane fueled forge to heat shoes that need more bending than he can do with a hammer on the anvil, a grinder, a small welder and a cutting torch. He estimates his tools cost him about $6,000.

  Then he put on a pair of leather chaps outfitted with extra patches where he holds the horse's hoof between his thighs. The patches help protect against jabbing the sharp shoeing nails into his thighs, one of a farrier's most common injuries.

  Holman led a gray gelding from the barn of Mike and Gilda Jesko of Lake Cormorant. Holman shoes horses from Jonesboro, Ark., his native state, east to Booneville, Miss., and from Eads, Tenn., south to Senatobia, Miss.

  He talked reassuringly to the animal, explaining that it was a "real nice" horse.

  "C'mon, Smoky," Holman said as he picked up the horse's right front hoof. Holman says some farriers remember all their horses' names, but he just calls the gray ones Smoky and the rest of them Lightnin'.

  He cleaned the hoof, trimmed it with a hoof knife and nipped the outside wall to make sure it was level and flat so the shoe would seat well. Holman pulled a standard or "keg" shoe from a bin in his truck where he stocks 15 types in six sizes.

  After sizing it by holding it against the hoof, he made a minor adjustment to the breadth by beating the shoe with a hammer on the anvil. He tacked it on with a couple of the sharp, malleable nails before filing the excess hoof from the sides with a large rasp.

  Holman deftly nailed six nails through the holes in the shoe, points sticking out the wall of the hoof. After driving them tighter, he clipped the points off and rasped them smooth.

  "That's perfect, ain't it, old boy?" Holman asked as he released the hoof.

  Smoky appeared to like his shoe, pawing at the ground with it as Holman readied the next hoof. It cost the Jeskos $50 to have their two horses shoed. Holman recommends shoeing horses every six to eight weeks and charges more for special shoes and belligerent horses. He said he usually shoes about six horses per day.

  "I own four horses and, actually, they are shoeless right now," Holman said with a laugh. "I haven't been able to ride mine in seven months."

  Holman looks the part, if not an outright cowboy, dressed in striped Western shirt, bandana around his neck, cowboy hat and a large bushy reddish blond handlebar mustache. He trades the hat for a baseball type cap when he's shoeing.

  "If there's one thing I'd say about him, it's that he's dependable," Gilda Jesko said. "He's also a nice guy and good to the horses, like part of the family."

  Vernie Reed, retired West Memphis farrier, helped Holman out when Holman was getting his start in the business.

  "He's a good, honest cowboy with a lot of knowledge of horses," Reed said. "We both took something we enjoyed, turned it around and made a little bit of money at it."

  "The best part of this is being outdoors, working with the horses," Holman said. He thought a long while when asked about the job's toughest part.

  "I don't really have nothin' to complain about," he finally replied. "I get bit or kicked, but not often." Working with the human owners, he decided, is the hardest part of shoeing horses.

Cowgirl Profiled
Oregon -- The Portland Oregonian carried a story on October 4, 1998 by Richard Cockle about cowgirl:

  Dawn weaves a lacy, golden embroidery along the shadowy ridgeline outside the barn as Kristy Wright, 39, throws a heavy stock saddle on a gelding called Pedro and draws down on the cinch.

   "Pedro belongs to a friend," said Wright, a rider for the Wilson Cattle Co. brand, a fifth generation Eastern Oregon family ranch near North Powder. "Both of my horses are injured right at the moment."

  Wright is a cowhand, but emphatically not a cowgirl, she says. "I am a cowboy, and I busted my tail to earn the right to carry the name."

  The number of woman cowhands, by most indications, is on the increase across Eastern Oregon. Wright can think of at least 10 women who earn their livelihoods pounding a saddle. And that doesn't include several more who "ride cattle" part time.

  She swings into the saddle, checks the coils of her 50 foot lariat    20 feet longer than a typical rodeo lariat, because a working cowboy requires a lot of rope    and wheels Pedro in a tight circle. They join rider Ben Trindle, 25, and ranch manager Tom Pierce, 44, and together clop clop across a paved road, pass through a gate and then lope into a vast, irrigated meadow under the Elkhorn Range.

  Wright wears a broad brimmed hat, jeans, boots, spurs, chaps, a neckerchief and a patched cotton jacket that lost a long ago argument with a barbed wire fence. Pulling the 11 year old gelding down into a trot, she reflects that being a cowboy means doing everything her parents warned her against when she was a little girl learning to ride.

  "You run down hills and through rocks and holes and across wires," she said. "You go where the cows go. If you are chasing a cow, for some reason you can get away with riding like that. If you aren't chasing a cow, you'd better slow down and think."

  Wright's husband, Gary, is at home in North Powder, paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident two years ago. The couple's three sons are 14, 18 and 20 years old. The eldest is married, lives in Florida, and has a 2 year old daughter, which makes Wright a grandmother.

  In her spare time, she shoes her own horses and does Navajo style weaving. Wright also has an arrangement with several local men who shoot coyotes and bring the carcasses to her. She skins them, tans the hides and returns one tanned hide to them for every five they deliver. She also is a local search and rescue team volunteer and, sometimes, paints Western scenes on bleached cow skulls.

  "I do all the traditional women stuff, too," she said, mentioning sewing, knitting and crocheting.

  Wright and the two other riders separate and begin bunching up calves. The plan is to gather 400 bawling calves and push them three miles to the corrals at Wilson Cattle Co. headquarters. There, they will be loaded into stock trucks and shipped to a feedlot for the winter.

  These calves were born last spring and average 500 pounds each. The young animals scamper, mill around and try to cut back past the horses. The riders whistle and call, "Hey, hey, hey, baby!" Heading off the calves requires them to repeatedly jump the shallow irrigation ditches cross hatching the meadows. It's brisk, demanding work, with the constant threat that a horse might step into a badger hole and cartwheel.

  Wright bears a few scars from her 10 years as a cowpuncher. She's been kicked in the face, had her eyes blackened, nose broken and teeth loosened. She survived the indignity of falling over the front of her mount in full view of other riders and then having the horse tumble over the top of her. She recalls at least two concussions. Once she was run over by three yearling heifers.

  Conceding the element of risk, she sometimes jokes, "I just pray for a quick and merciful death."

  Her professional demands are fairly basic: "I want equal pay for equal work, and I want the chance to do the work," she said. But being a woman on a mostly male cow outfit isn't as tough as one might imagine, she said.

  "A lot of the old boys have less problems with a woman being out here than the young ones," said Wright. "You'd think it would be the other way around. I think the young ones think the girls are treading in their cowboy territory."

  Pierce, in some ways, is an ideal boss. He has four daughters and prefers women as cowhands.

  "Men have a tendency to be less patient and more forceful," he said. "Mainly, women are not as cowboyish. They are a little slower, easier, quieter. When you are working cows, the quieter, the easier it is, the better it is for the cows."

  The cattle business has become as precarious an enterprise as cowboying. Beef prices are in the basement, threatening the future of many undercapitalized family ranches.

  That is partly a consequence of government trade agreements allowing the U.S. market to be flooded with Canadian beef going directly to slaughter and meat to be imported from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, said Randy Mills, an Oregon State University Extension Service agent in Pendleton.

  But, just as it was in the days of the Texas trail drives, ranching still is about raising beefsteak on the hoof. And cowboying continues to mean rolling out before daybreak and riding rank horses in bitter winter winds and 100 degree summer heat for comparatively little pay. Wright has been in the saddle when the mercury hit 45 below zero, and she says the cold is the hardest element for her to handle.

  "You blink and your eyelashes frost together and you can't see," she said. "It's not fun."

  Cowboying is a profession with no real future, she said. "It's a job that uses you up and throws you away and replaces you with a younger person."

  In other words, cowboying is a metaphor for life. A few years ago, Wright tried to hang up her rope and saddle. She enrolled in range sciences classes at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, with plans to find a comfortable indoor career with a retirement plan. Two weeks before her final exams, her husband was critically injured. She spent the next two years caring for him.

  Climbing back into a saddle last spring was like coming home after a long journey, she said. She began rediscovering the things that charmed her most about the cowboy life.

  "I love being out in the spring with the new calves. The yearlings are like kids, very curious, very playful."

  Wright spurs Pedro toward a small knot of calves near a fence line and finds herself faced off against four coyotes. She yells and the coyotes trot away. Wright watches their departure without expression. Coyotes pose little threat to people or cows, except during the calving season, she said.

  "They'll eat the calf right out of the cow, and then they'll start eating the cow when she can't get up," Wright said. She once saw a mother cow accidentally kill its calf while trying to protect it from coyotes. When the mother cow finally moved off, the coyotes ate the little creature.

  "They have their place," Wright says of coyotes. "In fact, I kind of like them. But I've killed my share. Once they start chewing on calves, they've got to go."

  Considering the social and economic pressures on cattle ranching across the American West, Wright figures the days of cowhands like herself are probably numbered.

  "And that's a shame," she said. "Some people were born to be a cowboy, and I can't see them being anything else. It's good, honest work."

Gentling a Mustang
Illinois -- The Chicago Tribune carried a story on October 4, 1998 by Glenna Holloway about the process of breaking a BLM mustang:

Matt Trynoski is not a horse whisperer. He speaks fairly loudly, not to the horse with which he's working but to the watching crowd at Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton as he explains each move he's making with the unbroken young stallion.

  "I don't want to force him to do anything," said Trynoski, who has supervised the riding facility for 15 years. "I want him to cooperate willingly. If I force him to do something, he'll learn there are things he's able to resist. Then nothing will make him do them."

   The trainee is an adopted mustang named Jeff. He stands about 14 hands high (about 57 inches from the ground to the withers, which is the base of the neck), and is dark reddish brown with a long black tail and mane. He weighed 800 pounds when he arrived at Danada by private trailer on June 26 and calmly walked out to survey his first home since he roamed the open ranges of Nevada, where he was born.

  "We were advised to stand back when we got him here," said Vicki Strykowski of Plainfield, the volunteer coordinator of Danada's adoption project. "They said he might explode out of the trailer. Or we might have to wait awhile until he wasn't too afraid to come out. Actually, he stepped right out and let a photographer pet his nose. We're having a hard time convincing visitors that he is, indeed, a wild horse."

  Technically, mustangs, broncos and cayuses (a small Western horse used by cowboys) are feral, not wild, because they are not a native species. They are descendants of saddle horses brought to the New World by Spanish explorers. But for generations they have roamed the West with little contact with people. Because mustangs compete with cattle and sheep for open grazing lands, they are not well loved by ranchers.

  Jeff was acquired in Jefferson, Wis., at one of several horse adoptions held around the country by the Bureau of Land Management, part of a federal program designed to find good homes for the increasing population of Western feral horses, now numbering between 40,000 and 50,000. (He got his name in August after a vote by the visiting public. Approximately 500 votes were cast, with Jeff, for Jefferson, Wis., coming out on top.)

  Strykowski will be Jeff's legal owner after a probationary year during which the BLM will keep tabs on the animal's training and well being. (The BLM requires horses to be adopted by individuals to prevent their being collected by groups that have been known to sell them for dog food or other illegal purposes.) "I got a lucky draw (in the lottery to determine the order for adopting the horses)," Strykowski said. "I got to make the second pick from the 125 horses available. There were between 50 and 75 applicants. We got our first choice."

  Strykowski, who spearheaded fundraisers for the project, was accompanied to the adoption by Trynoski and about 20 volunteers who went along to advise, support and look over the horses. "We saw seven horses we thought were promising," Strykowski said. "It was a tough decision, but we're very happy with our bay (reddish brown horse). We looked for good conformation, how he behaved among the other horses and the crowd of people and how he reacted if you tried to touch him."

  Jeff was born in 1995 and taken off the range near Winnemucca, Nev., in October 1997. Until his trip to Wisconsin, he was in a crowded holding pen in Nebraska with many other mustangs, where he was wormed and freeze branded.

  Trynoski explained that freeze branding permanently destroys the pigment in the hair that grows out over the brand, so the brand always shows as light hair. More humane than the old hot branding method, the iron is dipped in liquid nitrogen to apply a coded identification including the horse's year of birth, where he came from and a registration number.

  "We had to quarantine our horse immediately because he arrived with a contagious upper respiratory infection. But he let us treat him with hot packs on his throat, and we cleaned him and groomed him right away," said Strykowski, one of four volunteers who got Jeff used to water and sponges.

  Trynoski estimates the horse should weigh between 900 and 950 pounds when he fills out and may add a little more height. Since oats were added to his diet, he has gained steadily and is up to 850 pounds.

  Trynoski, who resides on the Danada premises with his wife and two daughters, established an early bond with the animal, which regards him as his herd leader. The pair work in a circular 50 foot diameter pen that allows the horse to move freely without going very far. It is obvious, unless Trynoski sends him away as punishment with a sudden wave of his arms, that the horse wants to be close to his trainer.

  "Horses were prey animals for thousands of years, and their best defense was in numbers and speed," Trynoski said. "Their worst fear is isolation. A mare punishes a misbehaving colt by chasing him away, separating him from the herd. The desire to stay with the herd for safety is bred into them even though today's Western herds only have to fear an occasional mountain lion. The horse learns that doing what I want of him removes the threat of exile."

  The 1998 movie "The Horse Whisperer," based on Nicholas Evans' novel of the same name, generated great interest in the training of problem horses. People ask Trynoski if he's a whisperer, to which he may smile and say he just speaks Equus (the Latin term for horse genus). Actually, he says nothing to the horse at this point. He simply employs the same patience and animal understanding based on observation and study that the so called whisperers always used.

  The term "horse whisperer" probably originated in the British Isles in the 18th Century. What's certain is that a few men were able to tame notorious horses that had killed or maimed their riders or handlers. Because what those men accomplished was done during long periods alone with the animal and no one could hear what was going on, the term "whisperer" arose, along with the mystique.

  Today's most recognized horse experts include Monty Roberts, author of "The Man Who Listens to Horses," and Buck Brannaman, who was the model for the character in "The Horse Whisperer" novel and the movie. Like Trynoski, neither man calls himself a whisperer. However, they have expressed hope that the current interest in humane, sensitive bronc busting will improve the equine lot.

  Trynoski prefers the term "gentling" a horse. When he's finished with Jeff    because they're playing it by ear, no timetable has been set    a 12 year old child will be able to ride him or even learn to ride on him. Although Trynoski has never trained a wild horse before, he has worked with foals and he believes the same principles apply. He had a Western saddle on Jeff's back and was able to sit in the saddle within two weeks of the horse's arrival. Because the horse's hoofs must be trimmed, it was necessary to teach him to allow each of his feet to be lifted and held without jerking back. By repetition, the animal learned to balance himself on three feet and to understand that nothing painful would happen to him. Jeff's reward for all cooperative responses is that his herd leader will not send him away. Eventually his responses will become second nature.

  The main communication device for riding is the reins and bit. Trynoski began by putting a halter on Jeff, with rope attached to rings on either side. A slight pull caused the horse to turn his head toward the tug and finally to follow with his body. "Before we introduced the bit, we had to file his teeth, so I had to get him used to my hand in his mouth." In a single brief session the filing was done, the bit was received calmly and the mustang responded well to the reins.

  Trynoski also got Jeff used to different objects, sounds and situations: buckets rolled under his belly and between his legs, a sheet of plastic unfolded larger and larger, its flapping sound, the feel of it rubbed on him. An umbrella raised, loud noises and the sudden sound of a pop top can were aimed at getting the horse to turn and face fearful, unfamiliar objects and not run away. "Each time he does that, he learns coping skills and expands his mind," said Trynoski.

  Trynoski may talk to the horse later, but voice commands don't provide the same level of control. Also, other riders will have different voices. Signals the horse can feel are more consistent.

  Jeff has now been ground driven, where the trainer controls the horse with two long lines while standing on the ground, outside his private pen, his security area, as Trynoski defines it. "He eyed all the strange things he passed, but nothing really startled him," Trynoski said.

  The final step in turning Jeff into a good saddle horse is to geld him. The surgery will be done in the fall after the biting flies have subsided. Healing will take a couple of weeks. Gelding is standard management practice, allowing the mustang to be stabled with Danada's 21 other horses, a mix of mares and geldings, when he is ready to take his place in the riding lineup.

  Visitors are welcome to watch Jeff's progress. They can also learn how to adopt and care for horses of their own. Trynoski often gives public demonstrations Saturday and Sunday afternoons around 3 o'clock (call the center at 630 668 6012 to confirm). And Jeff will be on display in the show arena at Danada's fall festival on Oct. 11.

  At the moment, Jeff casts a benign eye on the admiring strangers around his enclosure. He holds his handsome pose, not unlike an Arabian horse, as Trynoski approaches with his saddle, then mounts.

  The late Dan and Ada Rice, renowned horse lovers whose namesake Danada is pronounced Dan AY da, would no doubt be pleased with this latest acquisition soon to grace their bridle paths.

Cars and Horses

Buggies on the Public Highways
Ohio -- The Dayton Daily News carried a story on October 4, 1998 by  Charlise Lyles about the risks of driving a horse-drawn buggy on the roads:

  On Ohio 62, a Toyota brakes fast at the sudden appearance of a buggy. A girl who appears to be no older than 14 yanks the reins to pull a panting, unruly horse to the shoulder of the road. The gawking motorist speeds by, sending dried manure flakes into the girl's reddened face.

   It is about 2:30 p.m., one of three peak periods for horse and  buggy accidents, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

  Driving a horse and buggy is a daily act of faith that can be deadly.

  'This is where it gets dangerous,' said Rachel Miller, 19, as Ohio 62 dipped and curved. 'From here to the sign, there've been five accidents in the last 10 years. One of our friends was killed, a 16  year old boy. It was dark.'

  In 1997, the Department of Public Safety reported 154 horse and  buggy accidents. Of those, 127 caused injuries, including two fatalities.

  In the late 1980s, buggy accidents reached an alarming rate as tourists swelled traffic on narrow two lane roads with 50 55 mph speed limits. In 1993, in response to concerned Amish leaders and agricultural extension agents, Ohio State University launched the Amish Buggy Safety Project.

  It developed the  Buggy Driving Safety  booklet for students in Amish schools who will begin driving at age 13 or 14. In addition, the Amish Buggy Lighting and Marking project designed safety lighting in accord with Amish religious and cultural beliefs.

  Ohio law requires horse drawn vehicles to display a minimum of 72 square inches of reflective tape or lighting because they travel less than 25 miles per hour. But Amish custom rejects bright colors such as the fluorescent red on the standard 'Slow Moving Vehicle' emblem.

  'The most visible material that would be brighter at night and reflect more  light is what the Amish would shy away from,' says Chris Eicher, a former OSU  extension associate.

  However, a panel of Amish agreed to mark buggies with silver, white or orange reflective tape with a low illumination, using a reduced width of two inches. The 'Slow Moving Vehicle' emblem was also accepted, though some Amish still reject its use.

  The panel also agreed to 12 volt battery powered amber rear lights and headlights, and top or side mounted strobe lights.

  Amish have other safe options, such as cabs.

  P.E. Miller, who is not Amish, charges a fee to transport Amish women to the grocery store in her large van.

  Others try to beat the traffic, rising very early to drive buggies into town before traffic floods roads between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., another peak accident  period.

  To be or not to be Amish came down to a horse and buggy for Ray Gingerich, 48, who grew up Amish but left the church.

  'With the amount of people on the roads, it is not quite as safe,' he said. 'It's a slow way to go.'

  But many non Amish are willing to slow down, too.

  'When you come up here in this country, you have got to respect them,' said McKinley Smith, a retired steel worker who day trips frequently from Zanesville. 'It's unreal to see people living this committed to what they believe.'

Car/Buggy Collision
Virginia -- The Washington Post carried a story on October 4, 1998 about a car/buggy collision:

  A driver of an Amish buggy was injured after a car struck the horse drawn buggy from behind, a St. Mary's County sheriff's deputy reported yesterday.

  The driver of the buggy, who was identified as Reubin Hertzler, 17, of Mechanicsville, was taken to a hospital with a possible fracture to his left ankle. He was reported in stable condition. His brother, Aden Hertzler, 16, a passenger in the buggy, was not injured.

  Deputy Todd Tucker said the accident occurred at 6:45 a.m. yesterday when a car speeding west on Route 236 struck the buggy, which was also westbound on Route 236. The driver of the car, identified as Donald Joseph Taylor Jr., 23, was arrested and charged with failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision. Taylor also was charged with possession of marijuana, Tucker said.

 Horse/Car Collision Florida -- The St. Petersburg Times carried a story on October 4, 1998 about a horse/car collision:

The driver narrowly escaped serious injury early Friday night when his vehicle struck and killed a stray horse on Route 19 south of Largo during a rainstorm.

  Largo police identified the driver as Frank Parker, a 30 year old salesman of that city.

  Parker told officers the horse was standing in the center of the roadway and he was unable to avoid striking the animal.

  Police were unable to locate the owners of the horse.

Training Police to Calm Horses
United Kingdom -- The Birmingham Post carried a story on October 3, 1998 about a new program to train horses involved in highway accidents:

Britain's policemen are not normally taught the finer points of horse soothing but officers in Fife yesterday became the exception.

  They will use skills of the type made famous by the Hollywood movie The Horse Whisperer to calm horses frightened after being involved in road accidents.

  Ms Laura Farquhar, a British Horse Society registered instructor who is teaching them, said it was aimed at reducing the risk of further injury to animals or people in the aftermath of an accident.

More on Teaching Police to Calm Horses
United Kingdom -- The Scotsman carried a story on October 3, 1998 by Robert McNeil about efforts to teach police to calm horses involved in accidents:

EQUESTRIAN fact: you can whisper all you like to a horse, but you cannot make it lie down on a greasy park in Glenrothes.

  Fife constabulary found this out yesterday, when Laura Farquhar, a British Horse Society registered instructor, tried her calming technique on Mr Mac for their benefit. Even Robert Redford, the director and star of the film The Horse Whisperer, would have had his work cut out with Mr Mac. He was calm enough but he wasn't rolling over in this muck for anyone.

   Ms Farquhar was at Glenrothes police HQ to show officers from the traffic department how to calm a horse.

  Horses on rural roads often suffer distress and injury caused by cars, and learning to settle them down can prevent further injury through panic. Police are also sometimes called on to recover horses which have escaped from fields.

  Although unwilling to lie down in the damp, Mr Mac was in all other respects impeccably behaved as Ms Farquhar displayed an impressive knowledge of horse psychology and a sure technique for equine relaxation.

  She stroked a nerve rich muscle at the top of Mr Mac's neck, releasing endorphins and making the horse's head droop forward in perfect docility.

  The technique for getting horses to topple over was employed by British cavalry officers 100 years ago so that the animals could provide protection from bullets. More humanely, if required on the road, it involves approaching the horse from the side, lifting up one of its forelegs and pushing it smoothly but forcefully so that it gently topples.

  "You just have to be very conscious of your movements. Do it nice and slowly, use your voice and be very confident in yourself," Ms Farquhar said, adding that an injured horse would undoubtedly respond and go down. Mr Mac was too fit to fall for it yesterday.

  Ms Farquhar, who is based in Cupar, also demonstrated how to attract straying horses by placing pebbles in a plastic container and shaking them. The horse, thinking it is food, ambles over. Breagh, a pretty pony owned by Katrina Nimmo, 12, demonstrated perfectly.

  Three million horses are ridden on Britain's roads among 26 millions cars and there are at least eight horse related accidents every day, mainly on minor roads. Three riders die every year.

  Ms Farquhar said a friend was badly hurt four months ago in Dunfermline after a car ran into the back of her horse, which was killed. She said that she was delighted to pass on tips to the police, who were often first on the scene at accidents.

  Jane Greer, of Fife constabulary's road safety unit, praised Ms Farquhar's demonstration. "We would now hope that our officers will be better equipped to deal with any such situation," she said.

Horse Shows and Exhibitions

World Equestrian Games Guide
United Kingdom -- The London Independent carried a story on October 1, 1998 about what to expect in the World Equestrian Games in Rome:


  30 September   4 October, Flaminio Stadium, Rome.


  INDIVIDUALS: Grand Prix Special: I Werth (Ger); Freestyle to Music: A van Grunsven (Neth)

  Germany have dominated for more than two decades, but The Netherlands gave them a good run for their money four years ago and should do so again.  Individuals compete in both the Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle to Music for one overall title, which should go to either Werth or Van Grunsven, who had a gold medal each in 1994. Britain will be happy to finish in the top eight teams, who qualify for the Olympics.

  BRITAIN: R Davison (Hiscox Askari); F Eilberg (Arun Tor); E Faurie (Legrini); S Phillips (Fun).


  1 4 October, Pratoni del Vivaro.

  DEFENDING TEAM: Great Britain

  INDIVIDUAL: V Jefferis (NZ).

  The New Zealand team (including the Olympic victor, Blyth Tait, and the European Open champion, Mark Todd) are undisputed favourites. Britain, who defend the team title won four years ago, have had so many setbacks through injury to key horses that they will need a lot of luck to retain the championship. The US team, trained by Capt Mark Phillips, could be the main threat to the Kiwis.

  BRITAIN: G Parsonage (Magic Rogue); P Phillipps (Coral Cove); N Taylor (The Frenchman II); K Dixon ( Too Smart).

  INDIVIDUALS: J Brakewell (Over to You); P Beckett (Watermark II).


  3 6 October, Tenuta Santa Barbara, Bracciano.


  INDIVIDUALS: Men: C Lensing (Ger). Women: T Benedetto (Ger).

  Sometimes sniffily referred to as "the circus bit", this event features youngsters performing spectacular gymnastics atop cantering horses. Germany and Switzerland are the best exponents. The British squad do not expect to win a team medal   but Daniel Bentley has a chance in the men's individual.

  BRITAIN Men: D Bentley; P Beasley. Women: R Townsend; J Croft; F Jones.  Team (8 of 10 to be chosen): P Beasley; J Eccles; K Hunt; L McElnay; H MacGillvray; D Mackay; P Murray; M Rawlinson; A Rogerson; G Russell.


  7 10 October,

  Pratoni del Vivaro.


  INDIVIDUAL: F Brasseur (Bel).

  The great George Bowman, a former scrap metal processor and rodeo rider, has twice been runner up in the world championships in this event, and he still has every chance of driving his team of four horses to victory at the age of 63. This time the Cumbrian driver will be able to compete with his son, George Bowman Jnr, as a team  mate. Pippa Thomas completes the line up for the British team and her sister, Karen Bassett, is also competing as an individual.

  BRITAIN: G Bowman; G Bowman Jnr; P Thomas. Individual: K Bassett.


  7 11 October, Flaminio Stadium, Rome.


  INDIVIDUAL: F Sloothaak (Ger).

  Germany holds the Olympic, World and European titles in both team and individual categories   and nobody will discount their chance of an extended reign. Both France and Brazil are tipped for team placings, with Austria's Hugo Simon favourite for the individual. Britain's chances looked forlorn until Nick Skelton won three grands prix in a row. Now nothing seems impossible.

  BRITAIN: G Billington (Virtual Village It's Otto); D Lampard (Abbervail Dream); N Skelton (Virtual Village Hopes are High); J Whitaker (Virtual Village Heyman). Reserve: J Fisher (Traxdata Renville).

Kiwis Dominate Games
United Kingdom -- The London Independent carried a story on October 6, 1998 by Genevieve Murphy about the winning ways of the New Zealand team:

THE CONFIRMATION was emphatic but unnecessary. Everyone who came here for the World Equestrian Games already knew that New Zealanders are the giants of three day eventing. The individual results on Sunday merely rubbed it in: Blyth Tait (first), Mark Todd (second), Vaughn Jefferis (fourth), Andrew Nicholson (fifth). Needless to say the team victory over France and Britain was gained with a huge winning margin for the Kiwis of 45.20pts.

  Tait, the Olympic champion who now holds the world title for a second four year period, had insisted beforehand that a New Zealand victory was not inevitable. "We were favour ites in 1994, but most of us fell off then and it could happen again," he had said.

   The British, who won in 1994, had been so hampered by the succession of horses on the sick or injured list that they had little hope of a repeat victory even if all the Kiwis did bite the dust. Under the prevailing circumstances, the team bronze medals were to be a source of jubilation.  So was the manner in which they were achieved.

  Polly Phillipps (with Coral Cove), Gary Parsonage (Magic Rogue) and Nigel Taylor (The Frenchman II) do not have horses with much natural flair for dressage. They were to excel on the cross country course in the rain soaked hills of Pratoni del Vivaro. Thanks to gallant efforts here on Saturday, Britain was the only nation to finish with three horses clear within the optimum time. Not even the all conquering New Zea landers could equal that achievement.

  Karen Dixon, the most experienced member of the British team, set out with similar resolve on Too Smart   but she alone failed to complete the journey.

  The little horse had never before been known to run out of steam, but he looked ominously tired when falling three fences from home and retiring.  Dixon will have him blood tested when he arrives back at his stable in County Durham.

  Given their fine cross country performances, the British advance from eighth to fifth after the cross country seem ed disappointingly small.  It suggested that the dressage would have an undue influence on the result.

  That was certainly the view of Giles Rowsell, the British chef d'equipe, who was annoyed to learn that the 17th cross country fence had been taken out of the course on Saturday morning on the advice of Hugh Thomas, the technical delegate, who was concerned about the ground after heavy overnight rain.

  The course had already been measured fairly leniently, and with horses galloping past fence 17 instead of being set up to jump it, the optimum time became easier to achieve. There was not, however, any question of amending the time since it is decided solely on the overall distance of the course, which remained unchanged.

  Rowsell would have liked the British horses to have been given the chance of tackling the complete course, including fence 17, which he did not regard as dangerous. Captain Mark Phillips, chef d'equipe of the United States team, was equally adamant that the course should not have been changed. The British, however, did advance to third place and they were happy enough to settle for bronze medals.

  It was Mark Todd who had to bear by far the biggest disappointment on Sunday, when he lost the individual championship through two show jumping errors.  There will be no comfort for the New Zealander in knowing that, under the new rules to be introduced next year, he would have had two show jumping fences in hand and a world title to his credit.

Eventing Santa Fe Style
New Mexico -- The Albuquerque Journal carried a story on October 4, 1998 by Patrick Miller about an event:

  Horses are a common sight in Galisteo, a village about a 20 minute drive from Santa Fe. But last weekend, there were a lot more horses than usual in town. A lot more people, too.

   They were attending the inaugural Event At Goose Downs, an equine triathlon.

  Jeffray Ryding, co owner of Goose Downs and president of the event's organizing committee, said the two day competition drew about 300 spectators and 120 riders and horses.

  Ryding described the competition as a series of three smaller events: dressage, stadium jumping and cross county riding. The event was the last of four such competitions held in New Mexico this year.

  It began 17 years ago in Las Vegas, N.M. Five years ago, the venue was changed to the Downs in Santa Fe. When the racetrack went bankrupt last year, Ryding said she decided to hold the competition at Goose Downs.

  Ryding has been a horsewoman for more than four decades. For her, eventing, as it is called, is the cream of the equine competition crop, she said.

  "Eventing is a very disciplined sport. It is beautiful to watch, and it takes years and years to get good at even one of the three skills," she said.

  Of the three disciplines, cross country is the one familiar to most people, she said. The event is a timed competition in which the rider takes his or her mount through or around an obstacle course of such natural objects as logs, streams and hedges.

  Cross country is the event actor Christopher Reeve was competing in when he suffered a fall that left him paralyzed.

  In stadium jumping, the horse and rider go over fences in an arena. Each fence knocked down counts as a penalty.

  Ryding described dressage as an equine version of ice skating.

  "There are compulsory moves that every ice skater must perform in a competition," she said. "That's how dressage works. There are three different standard routines, and each rider must perform the routines. Their scores are based on how well they do."

  There are five levels of competition. The top riders go on to compete in international events. The best can make it to the Olympics.

  Ryding said that as far as she knew, no New Mexican has gone on to the Olympics, but there are riders from the Southwest who have.

  She was confident it will be only a matter of time before a local makes it to the top of the sport.

  "There are many very talented riders around here. We do everything we can to encourage them. I'm sure it will happen," she said.

  Anyone can pick riding up, she said. The youngest rider she instructs is a 9 year old girl. The oldest is a 75 year old man who took up the sport a few years ago.

  "You should see him," she said. "He loves it. He's pretty good at it, too."

  Eventing sprang from the military use of horses, she said. Cavalries used similar events to see how battle ready horses were.

  Around the turn of the century, eventing caught on, and in the early 1920s, the United States Combined Training Association was formed. Eventing became an Olympic event in the games of 1928.

  Right now, eventing is strictly an amateur sport. Ryding said she doesn't know anyone who makes a living competing in any of the events. But, she said, she's certain the day is coming.

  "There's a movement going on right now to make it a professional sport," she said.

  She said she's not particularly opposed to the idea but cautions that the learning curve is so long that riders out to make a quick buck are only fooling themselves.

  "This sport doesn't lend itself to easy profit. It takes years and years just to make it to the lower levels. And the layout for the equipment and horses can be pretty steep."

Horse Injuries and Illnesses

EEE in Emus
Massachusetts -- The Boston Globe carried a story on October 7, 1998 about eastern equine encephalitis:

   The eastern equine encephalitis virus has been isolated from one of seven emu that died in Essex between Sept. 27 and Oct. 5. The Department of Public Health has also identified the virus in mosquitoes. Until there is a hard frost, residents of eastern Massachusetts are reminded to avoid outdoor activity during peak hours of mosquito activity.

Were Horses Poisoned by Aluminium?
Ireland -- The Irish Times carried a story on October 3, 1998 by Kevin O’Sullivan about an investigation into the causes of the deaths of horses:

The Environmental Protection Agency has strongly rejected much of the findings of a controversial research paper published in the US claiming the deaths of horses in Askeaton, Co Limerick, were due to high levels of aluminium in their tissue caused by acid rain pollution.

  Suggesting the deaths were "connected with acidification and related to aluminium pollution in the area" does not hold up on the basis of measurements made in the course of ongoing investigations of animal health problems there, the EPA said. The study by the Irish Equine Centre (IEC) of horse deaths on the farm of Andy and Doris Sheehy is published in the latest issue of the journal Veterinary and Human Toxicology.

   The EPA's director general, Mr Bill McCumiskey, said he wished to allay fears which the local community may have following its publication and coverage in a Sunday newspaper. It was "most reprehensible that neither the IEC, nor the Sunday Business Post" consulted the agency before publication. This gave rise to "unwarranted suggestions likely to give rise to public concern", he said, notably the possibility, suggested in the newspaper, that it had implications for human health.

  The Mid Western Health Board, one of a number of multidisciplinary teams involved in a series of investigations, had found no evidence to date of high disease levels in the area which could be linked to aluminium. "In addition, whereas the main sources of aluminium for humans are food and water, the level of aluminium found in vegetables grown in the area were found to be similar to those grown in other areas," Mr McCumiskey said.

  EPA investigations which include daily monitoring had indicated the area is not subject to acid rain, while there was no evidence of aerial contamination by aluminium. "The suggestion that the presence of high levels of acidity makes it possible for aluminium to be taken up by plants is not compatible with the EPA's investigations."

  EPA findings did not support the suggestion that the Aughinish Alumina plant in the area is releasing significant quantities of aluminium oxide into the local atmosphere. Equally, rainfall samples had not shown the presence of the bauxite raw material used at the plant or the alumina product.

  Department of Agriculture investigations at farms adjoining the Sheehys' had found no evidence that livestock deaths or illness could be ascribed to aluminium toxicity. Aluminium concentrations in cattle bone and milk were similar to those in other parts of Ireland, Mr McCumiskey said.

  The EPA, however, said the report of granulomatous enteritis in the horses, and its link with tissue aluminium, was a significant finding warranting further investigation. "As environmental pollution can effectively be ruled out as a source of aluminium at this stage, other potential sources should be considered," he said.

  The EPA said it was disappointed the Department of Agriculture had been denied access to animals and specimens from the Sheehy farm since 1996 and the IEC had refused last year to supply the agency with details of its work. It was nonetheless still prepared to mount a full investigation of factors that caused so many horse fatalities.

  The Green MEP, Ms Nuala Ahern, said the IEC study was helping to identify the real causes of the deaths and calling into question "the integrity of the official investigations". She said she would suggest to the EU Environment Commissioner that directives on acid causing emissions be reviewed.

Farmers Question Conclusions of Aluminium Poisioning Investigation
Ireland -- The Irish Times carried a story on October 3, 1998 by Kevin O’Sullivan about the reactions of farmers to the study conclusions:

Farmers in the Shannon estuary have repeated their demand that the Government review the EPA investigations of the deaths of hundreds of their animals in the light of research co ordinated by the Irish Equine Centre (IEC).

  The Askeaton/Ballysteen Animal Health Committee spokesman, Mr Donagh O'Grady, said the EPA should also review the terms of integrated pollution control licences issued to industry in the area. The findings also warranted "bringing the ESB under the terms of the licensing system immediately", he said. The ESB has power stations at Moneypoint and Tarbert.

   These stations, together with the Aughinish Alumina facility in Askeaton, were found in an EPA study during the 1988 1994 period to be producers of significant amounts of sulphur dioxide, which can cause acid rain. Significant investment in curtailing such emissions was made in recent years, but no link between the animal deaths and these facilities has been found in a series of studies since 1995.

  Mr O'Grady said they were "deeply disturbed by the way in which a study initiated by a single family has succeeded while the multi million pound study co ordinated by the EPA has failed".

  He was speaking before meeting Dr Ursula Fogarty of the IEC, a pathologist, on the research she completed with leading toxicologists in the United States.

  Dr Fogarty said their findings opened up "a whole new area of science" on the issue of acid rain, primarily because they suggest it can cause an accumulation of aluminium in animal tissue. Up to now the metal was considered relatively inert.

  "We offer an explanation of how aluminium gets into tissues. A lot of the science is already proven, but this indicates the link."

  Aluminium was present in nature in many forms, but it was very difficult to say if the aluminium in tissues came from industrial sources. Their findings, nonetheless, had implications for a range of diseases.

  Mr Simon White of the IFA industrial and environmental committee, who has lost pedigree livestock on his farm in the area, said: "This breakthrough will have massive repercussions.

  "It is a huge morale booster to those who have been at the receiving end of not alone the awful problems but also a campaign of innuendo mounted inferring that industrial pollution was in no way the cause and therefore farming practices must be to blame."

  Accountability for damage caused and compensation for that damage must now be addressed in this case and in all licensing by the EPA, Mr White said.

Police Honor Fallen Patrol Horse
Virginia -- The Norfolk Virginian Pilot and The Ledger Star carried a story about honoring a deceased patrol horse:

Breaker,  a horse donated to the Virginia Beach Police Department's Mounted Patrol eight years ago, was honored Friday as a loyal and spirited animal. He died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident two weeks ago.

  The cremated horse's ashes were given to his rider, Officer Tommy Shortridge, during a somber afternoon ceremony that made the Mounted Patrol's supervisor weep.

   Members of the Tidewater Western Riders and two officers from the Richmond Police Department's mounted unit joined the parade of city horses that stopped in front of police headquarters.

  Dozens of officers and citizens, including Mounted Patrol caretaker Tracie Robertson, attended the short ceremony where Breaker was remembered as hard working horse with a mischievous streak. Officers said he was also known for his fearlessness and his eagerness to work.

  On Sept. 17, a motorist on 19th Street drove his car into the animal, hurting the horse and his rider. Four days later, Breaker died of complications from internal injuries. He was among the oldest members of the unit.

  Breaker, like all city Mounted Patrol horses, was donated to the police after his owner no longer valued him. After extensive training, Breaker became one of the unit's most dependable horses, officers said.

  The motorist who struck Breaker is not facing charges, and the injured officer is recovering.

Killing New Zealand Horses
New Zealand -- The Dominion carried a story on October 2, 1998 by Helen Bain about an investigation of the killing of horses by the government:

   CONSERVATION Department staff made a serious error of judgment in shooting horses in a Far North reserve, a department investigation has found.

  In August, three department staff shot dead seven horses and eight cattle in the Mokaikai Scenic Reserve because they believed the animals were damaging a fence keeping possums out of the reserve.

   The incident followed drawn out tensions between local iwi Ngati Kuri and the department, and disputes about the presence of stock and its impact on endemic species in the reserve.

  In May, Conservation Minister Nick Smith wrote to Ngati Kuri Trust Board, saying that proposed musters of stock in the area had been put on hold while discussions between the department and Ngati Kuri continued.

  The department's report says that, given the public sensitivity of shooting horses, the tensions with Ngati Kuri, and the minister's letter to Ngati Kuri, the shooting was a serious error of judgment.

  "The fact that they shot stock, given the feelings of local iwi, and that the planned muster was on hold, shows poor judgment on their part."

  The department's northern regional general manager took appropriate disciplinary action against the staff involved, the report says.

  The report says all the horses and cattle were shot humanely and died within minutes.

  When Ngati Kuri Trust Board chairman Graeme Neho contacted the department, staff initially denied knowing anything about the dead horses, the report says.

  The clearing of stock from reserves in the area remains an issue and will be done by mustering, in consultation with the iwi and community, the report says.

  Mr Smith said that though some errors of judgment had been made by department staff, the issue had been blown out of all proportion.

  "I am disappointed that the incident occurred and have apologised to Ngati Kuri, who were upset because they had asked to be further consulted before any horse culling took place on the reserve.

  "This issue has been blown out of all proportion in that over 5000 horses and 300,000 cattle are shot every year in New Zealand."

  Mr Smith said he had given instructions that the horses in the reserve were not to be removed, but the message was not clearly communicated to the field staff involved.

California’s Proposition 6
California -- The Sacramento Bee carried a story on October 2, 1998 by Cathleen Doyle about Proposition 6, which would prohibit slaughtering horses for human consumption:

Makes possession, transfer or receipt of horses for slaughter for human consumption a felony. Makes sale of horse meat for human consumption a misdemeanor, with subsequent violations punished as felonies.

  1. What should be the legal uses for horse meat? The same as the legal uses for dog and cat meat: Like our other recreational animals domesticated to bond with and trust humans, horses should be protected against slaughter for human consumption. Although already against the law, we would no more tolerate the slaughter of our dogs and cats for export to countries where their meat is eaten than we should our horses. It is against every basic American value. In America, the horse is not a food animal.

   When necessary, horses should be humanely euthanized by a painless lethal injection and rendered, costing no more than a couple sets of horseshoes or calling a vet for a colic.

  No animal in this state or nation has served humans more. Our horses deserve this protection against cruel and inhumane slaughter, which includes bludgeoning the horse in the head with a 4 inch spike, hanging it by a hind leg while it's still alive, slitting its throat and dismembering its body for the foreign meat market.

  2. Can horses be both companion animals and food animals? No. Horses can be both companion and livestock animals, but they cannot be both companion and food animals. Dogs, cats, wildlife, exotics, endangered species    all have a specific status. And there is no doubt as to the food status of cattle, hogs, sheep or poultry.

  A "companion animal" is domesticated and not raised for food, not eaten in the respective country or culture, interacts with and accompanies humans and is generally given a pet name. This is a horse.

  The definition of "food animal" in the California Veterinary Medical Association's glossary reads: "Any animal that is raised for the production of an edible product intended for consumption by humans. The edible product includes but is not limited to milk, meat, and eggs. Food animals include but are not limited to cattle (beef or dairy), swine, sheep, poultry, fish, and amphibian species." No mention of the horse.

  California Penal Code 598b, enacted in 1989, prohibits the killing of any "pet or companion animal" for the purpose of food. Sadly, it does not define which animals are pet or companion.

  The biggest lie perpetuated by our opposition is that Proposition 6 will change the classification of horses. It doesn't even address classification. It prohibits the slaughtering of horses for human consumption, period.

  3. There is agreement that rendering horses, even for animal consumption, is acceptable. Why is processing the meat for human consumption different?

  Rendering is done after the animal is dead. It has nothing to do with the method by which the animal is killed. When a horse is "humanely euthanized" by lethal injection, the carcass can be rendered into myriad usable byproducts, one being a "protein meal" that is used in pet food. Proposition 6 advocates humane euthanasia and rendering of horses.

  Horses slaughtered to be eaten by humans cannot be humanely euthanized or rendered and must be killed in a cruel and inhumane fashion.

  4. What are the economic implications of Proposition 6?

  Passage would have a positive economic impact on California's economy because proponents say horses should be humanely euthanized and disposed of, not shipped out of state to be cruelly slaughtered for "gourmet" meat demands. State sales tax and equine revenue are lost from shipping horses to be slaughtered in foreign owned plants.

  If the 3,000 to 10,000 California horses now being slaughtered were humanely put down, livelihoods such as equine veterinarians, renderers, landfills and dead haulers would benefit.

  And some of these horses, given time, would go to new homes to provide pleasure and companionship as well as support California's equine economy. Because of the large number of horses slaughtered (3 million nationally) since 1986, and the constant demand to fill the quotas, thus creating an industry of greed and consumer fraud, it has become increasingly difficult to find inexpensive, sound riding horses.

  Remember: The horse slaughter industry is all foreign owned, serving foreign interests. A handful of dealers and three foreign owned slaughterhouses benefit.

  Cathleen Doyle is a spokeswoman for the Save the Horse campaign. She, along with Sherry DeBore and Sidne Long, sponsored Proposition 6. Its Web site is

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